Fighting for Equity in Education

The struggle is long but hope is longer

Money can’t buy you love but can it buy you a better education?

Monday March 28, 2016

The following article is a summary of a new analysis of public and private school Victorian Certificate of Education results and their comparative funding levels by Dr. David Zyngier, Senior Lecturer in Curriculum & Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, Monash University. The full paper can be downloaded below.

It is often claimed as fact that private schools outperform public schools. New analysis of MySchool data and 2015 Victorian Certificate of Education year 12 results by Dr David Zyngier of Monash University Education Faculty shows that public schools and private schools with similar Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) rankings have very similar VCE results. However, public schools achieve these results with far less funding.

Dr Zyngier has analysed the VCE results “school ladder” by grouping both private and public schools into bands of 50 based on their VCE ranking and then comparing both their VCE results and school-based data including funding.

The average ICSEA for all secondary schools in Victoria was 1027 (above the national average of 1000). Ninety-one per cent of private schools have an ICSEA over 1000 while only 32% of public schools are over 1000. This further confirms the Gonski Review finding that over 80% of disadvantaged students are attending public schools.

Top performing public schools (excluding select entry schools) actually outperform private schools with similar ICSEA rankings. The median VCE score of these public schools is actually slightly above the private schools. Public schools had 18% of VCE scores over 40 or more (out of 50) compared to 17% in these private schools.

The percentage of LOTE (Languages Other Than English) students in the top performing private schools is 13% compared to 49% in these public schools while the staff student ratio for the top performing private schools was 1:10 compared to 1:13 in public schools. The non-teaching staff student ratio was 1:22 in private school compared to 1:50 in public schools.

When it comes to funding, private schools in this category on average outspend public schools by almost $9,000 per student. On average in top performing private school parents paid almost $24,000 per student (Korowa for example charged $32,000 in 2013 and $40,000 in 2016) for year 12 while parents in public schools paid less than $1,300.

The total government capital funding in both systems was almost the same. However total capital expenditure per student in private schools outstrips public schools by $13,000 or three times.

The same pattern of academic results, funding and expenditure is repeated for public and private schools in the lower achievement bands.

Band 1 (1-50 rank)
The average ICSEA for private schools in this band is 1158 while in public schools it is 1061. Given the very large discrepancy in both funding and resourcing in top performing private schools compared to public schools as well as the Socio-Educational Advantage of the private schools the difference in median VCE scores of 4 marks indicates that there is little return (in academic results) on both private parent and public money invested.

Private schools in this category on average outspend public schools by almost $9,000 per student (or 58% more) with the amount of money available (income from parent contributions, government transfers and donations) per student in 2013 of $21,500 in private schools (of which $5,177 was from federal and state funds) and $12,500 in public schools (of which $10,500 was from government sources).

On average in 2013, private school parents paid almost $24,000 per student for year 12 while parents in public schools paid less than $1,300. The total government capital funding 2009-2013 on average for these top performing schools in both systems was almost the same while these private schools received $5000 per student from government compared to $10,500 for public schools. Private schools outspend public schools by $13,000 or three times in capital expenditure in 2013 per student.

Band 2 (51-100 rank)
The average ICSEA for private schools in this band is 1093 while in public schools it is 996. Given their socio-economic advantage, the difference in median VCE scores of 1 mark only indicates that there is an extremely poor return (in academic results) on both private parent and public money invested where more than 50% of private schools actually receive double the amount of funds from government than they charge parents.

Private schools in this category on average outspend public schools by almost $8,000 per student (or 63% more) with the amount of money available (income from parent contributions, government transfers and donations) per student in 2013 of $20,200 in private schools (of which $7,862 was from federal and state funds) and $ 12,762 in public schools (of which $11,346 was from government sources).

On average in 2013 these private school parents paid for year 12 per student $12,854 (Geelong Grammar was the most expensive and charged $34,000 in 2013) while parents in public schools paid $807.

However when comparing total capital expenditure per student in 2013 there is a difference of $7,000 per student or more than double in private schools compared public schools.

Band 3 (101-150 rank)
The average ICSEA for private schools in this band is 1044 while in public schools it is 978. Given their socio-economic advantage the difference in median VCE scores of 1 mark indicates that there is again an extremely poor return (in academic results) on both private parent and public money invested in private education.

In 2013, these private schools outspent public schools by around $2,000 per student while receiving on average only 20% less of the amount of public funding of public schools.

The total government capital funding (2009-2013) on average for these third ranked private schools was $3.8 million compared to $3.5 million in public schools. However when comparing total capital expenditure per student in 2013 there is a difference of $6,665 or more than double (private schools $11,992 compared to $5,327 in public schools).

Significantly, 90% of these private schools received more money from government sources than from parent contributions, while 38% received more than 75% of their recurrent student funding from public sources. One has to question whether these private schools are actually public in all but name.

Band 4 (151-200 rank)
The average ICSEA for private schools in this band is 1018 while in public schools it is 962. The difference in median VCE scores of 4 marks between private and public schools reflects the wide socio-economic gap impacting on the results of students in public schools.

All these private schools received more money from government sources than from parent contributions, while 70% received more than 75% of their recurrent student funding from public sources.
In 2013, the amount of money from federal and state funds in private schools was $10,473 while public schools received slightly more at $11,936 from government sources.

On average in 2013 these private school parents paid $ 4,915 for year 12 per student while parents in public schools contributed only $668 per student.

The total government capital funding (2009-2013) on average for these fourth ranked private schools was $3.7 million compared to $4.5 million in public schools but total capital expenditure in the private schools more than doubled the expenditure of the public schools. There is a difference in total capital expenditure per student in 2013 of $4,545 or 61% in favour of private schools compared to public.

Conclusion
When it comes to funding, private schools on average outspend public schools by almost $4,000 per student with almost 50% of private school funding coming from federal and state funds.

Private school parents are paying on average over 15 times the amount paid by public school parents for year 12. The average total capital expenditure (government funding plus private sources) in private schools was $14,058 per student in 2013 compared to only $6,586 in public schools.

Spending more money on students and on school building, playing fields, rowing sheds, music centres and swimming pools seems to make no difference at all when students have similar social and economic status.

When all other things are held equal it seems the only factors here that are actually making the difference are the teachers and the students in public schools who defy expectations and labels.

Dr. David Zyngier
Money Can’t Buy You Love, But Can It Buy You a Better Education.pdf

Commenting is closed for this article.

Previous Next

Search

Contact us

News feed from Save our Schools

SOS Twitter

Chris Bonnor's Education Media Watch

Sections

Links


Education news


Education blogs


Education information


Public education


Policy Briefs


Research

Speeches


Submissions